Archive for the ‘UMNO’ Category


Sabah’s Watergate Scandal is the hottest news in town. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission seized RM114mil worth of assets RM53.7mil in cold cash stashed in houses and offices from two senior Sabah Water Department officials on Oct 4. The duo, a Director and Assistant Director of the Water Department are being investigated for alleged abuse of power and money laundering linked to contracts for RM3.3bil federal-funded projects channelled to the department since 2010.

This MACC seizure has opened many eyes, it is another reason why administrative reforms should be put in place, especially with regard to Federal development funds. This is what Musa Aman has been saying all along years and years ago.

The rural infrastructure allocation system for Sabah needs to be streamlined by the federal government through the channeling of federal funds directly to the state government to enhance the effectiveness of project implementation, particularly rural development projects. The total allocation provided by the federal government to the state for rural development projects is more than RM6 billion for the period from 2010 to 2013, which is approximately RM2 billion per year.

There is no justification for Federal to approve and implement projects in the State and ignore and not channel the funds to the State Government. The Federal Government should not be seen as usurping the authority of Sabah and creating a parallel government in the process.

The funds for all Federal funded projects should be channelled to the Sabah government for implementation and monitoring. State government knows better the ground situation and has in-depth knowledge of local conditions and requirements. Definitely the State government can chart Sabah’s own development course to meet local needs and requirements

The Federal Government should not play politics with federal funds …

In the wake of all this, here is an interesting take by Onn Ariffin. Onn was the former Director of Federal State Liason (USNO) an appointed post by Tun Mustapha in 1987, he was the “brain” behind the parallel government before Umno actually took charge in Sabah. Onn now Datuk, has been part of Sabah politics since the 70s and onetime he was Secretary-General of USNO.

Onn’s piece is in Malay but here it goes…..

ONN ARIFFIN

Tun Mustapha telah melantik saya sebagai Pengarah Perhubungan Persekutuan Negeri (USNO) sebaik sahaja tugas saya sebagai Setiausha Agung USNO tamat dalam tahun 1987.

Jawatan ini tidak mempunyai sebarang rujukan atau penunjuk arah tentang apakah peranan jawatan ini bagi kepentingan party mahu pun negeri.

Yang lebih saya fahami kerana Tun terpaksa menjawab soalan pemberita di Lapangan Terbang dalam sidang media tentang apakah jawatan seterusnya yang akan dipegang oleh Setiausaha Agong yang ada selepas tamat perkhidmatannya.

Jawapan Tun secara sepontan ialah perhubungan antara Kuala Lumpur dan Sabah.
Dari situlah timbulnya tafsiran disesuakan sahaja dengan panggilan nama Pengarah Perhubungan Persekutuan Negeri (USNO) oleh kerana terfikir kemungkin ada sesuatu yang boleh dijalankan untuk memenuhi tuntutan waktu .

Walau pun secara sepontan, namun ada juga kebijaksanaan Tun dalam mengumumkan perlantikan jawatan terebut kerana pada ketika itu pihak Kuala Lumpur merasakan suatu suasana kosong dalam poliitik Sabah setelah PBS mengambil alih Kerajaan Negeri. Lebih dari itu banyak isu-isu yang dibangkitkan sukar untuk dipertahankan kerana ketiadaan pemain tempatan.

Tugas utama jawatan tersebut adalah untuk meningkatkan perhatian rakyat atas kemampuan USNO sebagai kerajaan Alternative di Sabah. Oleh itu usaha utamanya ialah untuk memainkan peranan perang saikologi dan membidas isu-isu party lawan secara terbuka. Pada ketika itu juga dua akhbar kebangsaan yang hampir tutup laman Sabah dan menutup pejabat mereka kembali bergerak aktib. Dalam masa yang sama kita mengambil ikhtiar terselindung untuk mengambil alih Sabah Times walau pun sahamnya saling bertukar tangan, tapi untuk jangka waktu itu ia dapat dipergunakan untuk faedah USNO dan dasar-dasar untuk membawa lembaran pembangunan baru dinegeri ini.

Teringat saya atas pesanan Tun supaya tidak berunding dengan sesiapa pun dalam party atas tindakan-tindakan yang perlu di jalankan oleh Setiausha Agong Party, walau pun dengan Timbalan Presiden. Katanya buat apa sahaja yang perlu dan munasabah kerana pada akhirnya kita akan berhadapan dengan Majlis Tertinggi USNO untuk penjelasan.

Falsafah ini terus terbawa-bawa dalam tugas Pengarah Perhubungan Persekutuan Negeri (USNO) sehingga ia merupakan satu tenaga yang mantap dan kuat dan berperanan besar dalam menyelesaikan beberapa isu yang kadang kala melibatkan Kerajaan Persekutuan. Segala tindakan-tindakan dirahsiakan kerana strategy yang dirangka mestilah berperanan untuk mengukuhkan party.
Antara strateginya ialah mewujudkan kekuatan USNO melalui terbitan Lagu USNO. Mematahkan serangan-serangan Kartun party lawatan, memberikan pandangan atas gerak geri pegawai-pegawai persekutuan supaya bertindak dalam satu pasukan. Antara lain pula mengimbangi Lagu Hand in Hand dengan menerbitkan Lagu Gunung Kinabalu. Disini haruslah saya ucapkan terima kasih kepada Allah Yarham M.Y Ismail kerana telah mencipta lagu tersebut. Lagu tersebut sempat dilancarkan sehari sebelum lawatan Perdana Menteri untuk meresmikan Mesyuarat Agong terakhir USNO. Isteri saya Datuk Dayang Mahani dan Allah Yarham Datuk Norjan Badar turut dalam melancarkan lagu gunung Kinabalu, yang telah disumbangkan kepada RTM sebagai khazanah lagu-lagu patriotic Negara.
Saya cuma berharap pihak RTM sekurang-kurangnya memberikan perhargaaan kepada keluarga Allah Yarham serta kumpulan penyanyi atas sumbangan yang tidak ternilai dari Sabah.

Peranan harian pula termasuk meniliti dasar dan kenyataan-kenyataan kerajaan negeri sambil memberi jawapan dan penjelasan atas kedudukan sesuatu isu.

Oleh kerana perhubungan USNO dengan Kuala Lumpur semakin hari semakin baik, kita telah berjaya membawa masuk sejumlah 2juta ringgit peruntukan pembangunan untuk diagih-agihkan kekawasan ADUN USNO. Saya hampir merajuk kerana diberitahu oleh Pegawai Pembangunan Negeri yang wang tersebut mestilah melalui Kerajaan Negeri, lantas saya meninggalkan pesan supaya peruntukan tersebut dikembalikan sahaja ke Pusat kerana saya menganggap sia-sia sahaja usaha kita dan kehadhiran USNO sebagai Anggota Barisan NASIONAL diSabah tidak mempunyai sebarang makna. Sementara saya berada di Pejabat Pembangunan Negeri Pengarah ICU telah meghubungi saya supaya jangan berkecil hati kerana USNO sebagai party tidak mempunyai jabatan Khas untuk menerima wang pembangunan Kerajaan. Secara berseluruh saya katakan ada. Jawapannya Kemas negeri Sabah yang boleh memainkan peranan untuk menyampaikan peruntukan kekawasan2 ADUN USNO dan kawasan-kawasan tumpuan. Saya telah meminta Sdr Mustapha Mohd Yassin supaya memberikan butiran kepala code yang boleh digunakan. KEMAS serta merta melonjak naik dan bergerak selari dengan jabatan Pembangunan Negeri.

Begitu berpengaruhnya jawatan Pengarah Persekutuan Negeri (USNO) sehingga kerajaan Sabah terpaksa mewujudkan sebuah jabatan atas nama yang sama dengan melantik Datuk Chau Tet Onn sebagai Pengarahnya bertaraf Menteri Cabinet negeri.

Keputsan PBS keluar Barisan Nasional pada 15hb Oktober 1990 adalah tidak dijangka. Selang beberapa hari saya telah memanggil kumpulan pemikir untuk mengkaji impak hubungan antara Kerajaan Pusat dan Negeri walau pun BN kembali memerintah di peringkat pusat.

Keputusannya walau apa pun terjadi kita mesti mencari jalan supaya wang pembangunan untuk Sabah mesti disalurkan terus walau pun Kerajaan negeri tidak lagi menganggotai Barisan Nasional. Perselisihan yang ada adalah diantara Party dan Kerajaan dan tidak ada kaitan sama sekali dengan rakyat dan mereka tidak harus menjadi mangsa

Saya telah menderafkan pandangan saya dengan imputnya daripada beberapa ahli pemikir kepada YAB Perdana Menteri untuk menubuhkan sebuah Jabatan Baru dengan nama Jabatan Pembangunan Persekutuan Negeri Sabah (JPPS). Antara kandungannya adalah untuk menyelesaikan hal-hal pembangunan dan kesaksamaan sosial dalam memulihkan peradaban masyarakat. Tujuannya adalah untuk mewujudkan system kerajaan selari yang mampu mengambil alih peranan dan kelemahan jabatan-jabatan yang tergelincir dengan arus dan peranan sosial mereka.

Saya telah menyerahkan nota tersebut melalui Pengawal Peribadi YAB Perdana Menteri pada 25hb Oktober 1990. Saya difahamkan YAB Perdana Menteri telah meneliti nota saya beberapa kali dalam pesawat dalam penerbangan beliau ke Kuala Lumpur.

Pegawai Kewangan Persekutuan telah memaklumkan andainya Jabatan tersebut menjadi kenyataan beliau telah meminta peranan JKR dalam memantau projek-projek tersebut diletakkan dibawahi Kewangan Persekutuan Sabah. Saya mohon maaf kerana Nota saya sudah disampaikan sehari sebelumnya.

Saya berpesan kepada Pegawai Research, supaya mana2 jabatan yang diletakkan untuk berbincang dan mengambil keputusan dalam projek pembangunan di Sabah mestilah mempunyai pendirian bebas tanpa dikongkong oleh jabatan lain. Tujuan untuk menentukan supaya pertimbangan check and balance sentiasa ada dalam pelaksanaan projek-projek.

Dalam hubungan yang sama projek mestilah berperanan untuk menaikkan taraf ekonomi Sabah, membentuk semula pemikiran politik yang matang, membangunkan kesejahteraan, kemajuan rakyat Sabah dan memelihara perhubungan antara pusat dan negeri. Untuk itu garisan quota penganggihan harus berada dalam skala, 30/30/30/10. Artinya 30% untuk bumiputera, 30% kumpulan politik, 30% pasaran terbuka sementara 10% atas kebijaksanaan Pemimpin politik itu sendiri.

Syukur Alhamdulillah YAB Perdana Menteri telah mengumumkan pembentukan Jabatan Pembangunan Sabah dalam Perhimpunan Agong UMNO pada 1hb November, 1990. Keputusan yang sama juga di buat untuk Kelantan.

Peruntukan pertama yang sampai di Sabah sebanyak 200 juta dan programme nya dilaksanakan oleh KEMAS negeri oleh kerana JPPS belum menyelesaikan structure Jabatan mereka di Kota Kinabalu.
Dalam melaksanakan cita-cita tersebut kontraktor-kontraktor di Sabah hendaklah didaftarkan semula dari Class A hingga F, sambil mengadakan kursus-kursus bimbingan. Perlu saya sebutkan ketika kita membuat research hanya seorang sahaja di Sabah ini yang mempunyai lesen kontraktor Kelas A pada masa itu. Kalau beliau berjaya dalam perniagaan dan kaya tidak siapa yang harus menyangkal kebolehan beliau kerana beliau tahu membaca keadaan perniagaan pada ketika itu, walau pun pada hari ini memegang jawatan kerajaan yang tertinggi di Sabah.

Jabatan Pembangunan Persekutuan Negeri Sabah yang wujud lebih 20 tahun telah melalui perjalanan yang begitu jauh untuk membangunkan Sabah dan pernah saya sebutkan kepada seorang Menteri kanan Persekutuan bahawa matelamat pembangunan melalui JPPS sudah pun tercapai. Oleh kerana Kerajaan Negeri didalam tangan BN maka peranan JPPS haruslah dihentikan. Ada perkara yang tersirat yang tidak diketahui oleh pelaksana bahawa kuasa JPPS boleh mengurangkan pengaruh pemimpin2 negeri kerana itulah matelamat utama JPPS.

Falsafah inilah yang mungkin menjadi ikutan di hari-hari muka ini, bahawa Kerajaan Negeri tidak perlu di maklumkan dimana projek-projek pembangunan akan dijalankan dan apakah nilai projek yang bakal dibawa masuk.

Saya tidak tahu sama ada Kerajaan pusat apabila mengumumkan sesuatu projek membawa nama Ketua Kerajaan Negeri dan Cabinet dalam acara-acara rakyat. Mudah-mudahan ada. Umpamanya bila menyebut Kerajaan Pusat setelah berbincangkan dengan YAB Ketua Menteri Sabah dan Cabinet Negeri bersetuju akan melaksanakan projek A atau B dikawasan ini. Ini adalah bahasa politik, bahasa Kerajaan yang harus menjadi amalan kepada setiap pemimpin yang masuk ke Sabah untuk membawa projek. Disitulah letaknya seni dalam menatang hubungan antara pusat dan negeri.

Sebab ada pendapat yang mengatakan satu-satu projek yang turun ke Sabah tidak semestinya datang dari Satu Kementerian sahaja. Dari Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Kementerian-Kementerian, EPU, ICU sendiri dan pelbagai agensi. Dalam satu segi ia dikatakan decentralise, wal hal ia juga centralise.

Kerana wujudnya suasana demikian pemimpin-pemimpin bawahan, malahan kontraktor2 juga berpusu-pusu ke Kuala Lumpur cuba mewujudkan rangkaian peribadi masing-masing.

Secara tidak langsung ini melahirkan suatu suasana untuk membangunkan power base masing2 dengan rangkaiannya terus kepada penyokong-penyokong dipelbagai peringkat pimpinan politik dan kontaktor-kontroktar. Saya teringat bila saya menjadi Ketua Bahaagian UMNO amat mudah untuk berjumpa dengan Menteri-Menteri Persekutuan.

Setelah saya tidak lagi dalam jawatan UMNO, walau pun bergelar Datuk, ada sahaja alasan yang diberikan oleh Pegawai Menteri tersebut untuk mengelakkan diri bertemu dengan saya. Satu hari saya aka namakan Menteri yang bahagia ini. Saya hampir menulis surat terbuka dengan Menteri tersebut supaya jangan panggil saya abang lagi, kerana dia lupa kepada budi saya memberi undi kepada beliau untuk jadi Ahli Majlis Tertinggi UMNO. Beliau bukannya tahu apa sebenarnya yang mahu saya sampaikan dalam pertemuan itu. Tidak semestinya projek.

Sistem seumpama ini sudah menjadi satu masaalah yang besar kerana terdapat kelemahan dalam cara pengagihan projek. Oleh kerana tidak dibendung awal timbul lah kejadian-kejadian dimana terdapat jumlah besar wang yang disorok dan dapat dirampas oleh Badan Pencegah Rasuah dari laci2, almari2 dan pelbagai tempat dari pegawai-pegawai yang mengambil kesempatan kerana terlihat oleh mereka ada kerenggangan para pemimpin dari maklumat-maklumat pembangunannya yang boleh diambil kesempatan untuk memesungkan dana-dana yang tidak bersih.

Walau pun ada kecurangan tapi kerajaan masih mampu meletakkan system penyampaian Negara pada paras yang sehat, kerana badan pencegah rasuah berjaya mengesan permainan projek dalam jabatan Kerajaan sehingga berjaya merampas wang-wang penipuan. Ini berarti system mengesan keselamatan dan kewangan kita masih terjamin dan dapat dipelihara dengan sebaik mungkin

Beberapa tahun yang lalu saya telah mencadangkan supaya JPPS ditutup dan kuasanya di turunkan terus kepada Ketua Menteri Sabah. Sehari seleas membuat cadangan itu Kerajaan Persekutuan telah menutup JPPS dengan serta merta. Tidak semestinya ini disebabkan kerana ditegur, kerana sebelulm ini pun ada juga suara-suara yang memanggil supaya ia ditutup akibat terlalu banyak pertelagahan dalam pelaksanaan projek-projek di Sabah. Memang sukar untuk mengendalikan projek-projek di Sabah, kerana permintaan terlalu mendesak dan sentiasa diasak. Malahan kerap kali ia mencabar perasaan dan kesabaran. Namun banyak yang boleh dipelajari dari pengalaman JPPS apa bila bertemu dengan permintaan Kerajaan, para pemimpin politik dan rakyat. Apa pun ia juga merupakan satu lagi cerita kejayaan Kerajaan.

Sudah tentu terima kasih kepada semua pegawai-pegawai JPPS daripada mula jabatan ini diperkenalkan di Sabah adalah kena pada tempatnya.. Apa pun yang mahu diperkatakan namun indeks pembangunan di Sabah semenjak tahun tahun 1990 mencapai taraf yang amat membanggakan disebabkan usaha yang gigih dan keyakinan pegawai-pegawai dan pemimpin politik untuk melaksanakan programme pembangunan untuk rakyat.

Ketika Datuk Seri Panglima Osu Sukam menjadi Ketua Menteri, saya telah mencadangkan melalui akhbar supaya satu pasukan pemantau ditubuhkan untuk memantau gaya kehidupan dan kelakuan pegawai-pegawai dan pemimpn-pemimpin Kerajaan.

Memang sukar untuk membezakan diantara pergaulan yang sehat mahu pun yang jujur, disebalik perhubunganya manusia yang mempunyai muslihat. Kalau tidak ada kedudukan dan berjawatan sudah tentu tidak ada yang harus dipertikaikan. Akan tetapi apabila ada pihak yang berani berbelanja diluar dari kemampuan pendapatan pastinya ia akan menjadi tanda Tanya dan kecurigaan yang merupakan material kepada badan pemantaun.

Cadangan ini telah ditolak kerana ada yang merasakan Badan Pencegah Rasuah sudah memadai untuk memainkan peranan. Oleh kerana sudah ada isu, hari ini saya ceritakan. Tugas Badan memelihara integerasi boleh menegur untuk mengelakkan kecurangan. Dengan rasuah, kerana ia sudah berlaku maka tindakannya jauh berbeza. Teguran boleh mendatang pelbagai makna, dibuang kerja, diturunkan pangkat, dipindah atau hilang kedudukan.

Apa yang ditekankan oleh YAB Ketua Menteri haruslah dipandang serious oleh semua pihak dan mestilah diberikan sokongan dalam mencari punca masaalah yang menjadi penyebab kelemahan kepada system yang ada. Dari itu cadangan untuk membuat rombakan atau “review” memang wajar.
Dalam Kerajaan Berjaya, projek-projek dipamerkan dan mungkin spesifikasi juga dipamerkan bersama. Oleh itu semua pihak yang berminat maklum dan secara tidak langsung boleh menjalankan pelbagai odit keatas projek tersebut.

Adalah molek semua projek yang masuk ke Sabah di maklumkan kepada Ketua Menteri, setidak-tidaknya senarainya disampaikan melalui mesyuarat-mesyuarat Majlis Tindakan Negeri. Yang Paling baik lagi kalau sesuatu projek itu mendapat perkenan oleh Kerajaan Negeri supaya mendapat kefahaman bahawa projek itu dipohonkan oleh kawasan-kawasan dimana dengan Kerjasama dua kerajaan ia disampakan kepada rakyat.

Projek pembangunan adalah modal besar dalam politik, jika maklumat penuh tidak diperolehi, pemimpin-pemimpin tempatan yang berperanan sebagai “pegawai perhubungan rakyat” tidak akan dapat menjual cerita politik mereka dengan mudah dan dianggap tidak menjalankan tugas untuk membawa perubahan kepada kawasan masing-masing.

Mungkin kedudukan pegawai-pegawai Kerajaan juga harus dikaji semula supaya tidak seorang pun harus duduk dengan begitu lama dalam jabatan-jabatan yang strategic yang ada hubungannya dengan pembekalan dan pelaksanaan projek. Ini untuk mengelakkan jangan sampai pegawai-pegawai-pegawai di bebankan dengan tafsirarn atas keinginan dan hasrat untuk mencari kesempatan buat diri sendiri.

Dari titik tolak atas adanya kambing-kambing hitam, Kerajaan Sabah masih mempunyai ramai kakitangan yang dedikasi dan bekerja dengan tungkus lumus untuk memajukan Sabah. Sudah tentu sesuatu yang terbaik akan lahir selepas kita mengahdapi gejala rasuah yang menular dalam masyarakat.

Ketua Menteri adalah satu Institiusi. Dalam perhubugan antara Kerajaan Pusat dan Negeri, kedudukan Ketua Menteri haruslah sentiasa dipelihara demi menjaga keutuhan Kerajaan itu sendiri dimana para pemimpin saling bergantung untuk menjaga martabat masing-masing. Dari situ kita harus bangunkan keyakinan rakyat supaya Kerajaan dapat melahirkan satu wadah kecemerlangan disebalik kejayaan Kerajaan Negeri yang telah berjaya mengumpulkan dana yang besar sebagai reserve kerajaan.

Saya juga mencadangkan supaya segala wang penipuan yang telah dirampas oleh Badan Pencegah Rasuah dikembalikan ke Sabah dan di masukkan dalam tabung pendidikan, yang mana sebilangan besar penuntut kita hari ini sedang berhadapan dengan perbelanjaan yang meningkat akibat ekonomi dunia yang tidak menentu.

http://www.malaysia-today.net/dont-mess-up-the-system/


The real reason Shafie Apdal resigned

 

This is what politicians like Shafie do. When they know they are going to die they announce that they are too principled to stay in such an unprincipled party and try to exit looking like a hero and then seek greener pastures elsewhere.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

“Justice is not being done. There is no justice in the way UMNO is being run,” said Shafie Apdal on resigning from Umno yesterday. And the media made it look like Shafie resigned over the 1MDB issue.

That is actually not so. The deal is Umno would support one Vice President from East Malaysia and since there is no Umno in Sarawak and there is only Umno in Sabah then a leader from Sabah would be given one of the three Umno Vice Presidents’ seats.

So the Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman made sure that all 25 Umno divisions in the state supported Shafie. And many of the other 165 Umno divisions in West Malaysia also supported Shafie in solidarity with Umno Sabah. And that was how Shafie managed to win one of the three Umno Vice Presidents’ posts even though he is not really that popular in Sabah.

In short, Musa gave Shafie that post. And that was why Shafie won that post. But now Musa has withdrawn his support. So in the next party election two years from now Shafie will not be able to win even a supreme council member seat let alone retain his Vice President’s post.

Shafie knows his days are numbered. Even if Umno does not sack him from the party he will no longer be able to hold any position of importance in the party. He is finished.

So, before he gets sacked, or worse, before he loses his Vice President’s post and does not even win a supreme council member seat, he might as well save some face and resign.

It is better that he pretends he is a person of integrity and principles by announcing he is resigning for the sake of truth and justice rather than he gets pushed into retirement because he lost his Vice President’s post or gets sacked from the party.

This is what politicians like Shafie do. When they know they are going to die they announce that they are too principled to stay in such an unprincipled party and try to exit looking like a hero and then seek greener pastures elsewhere.

No, I will not give Shafie too much credit by writing my normal long article about him. It would be a waste of time and time better spent playing with my granddaughter, Lily. By the way, that is Lily in the photo below.

Lily

See here http://www.malaysia-today.net/the-real-reason-shafie-apdal-resigned/


The Third Rail of Malaysian Politics: True Leadership.


For many years now, MANY in Malaysia have had an uneasy feeling that democracy, as generally understood, sits uneasily among the people of this country. Malaysia has large and sometimes articulate political parties and it has had leaders totally committed to the concept of democracy, which is also true. There was Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Tun Dr Ismail, Tun Hussein Onn, John Aloysius Thivy, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Tun Fuad Donald Stephens, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, Peter Mojuntin, Tun Mustapha, O K K Sedomon, Ahmad Boestaman,  and others who believed in the concept of democracy as the only one that would keep Malaysia together and take it forward.

Like true democrats they believed that dissent was an essential part of democracy, and that the country would only be enriched by debate and discussion, even by agitation if that became necessary. Their belief was complemented by their direct contact with the people; the trust that people had in them made it possible for them to persuade them to accept, enthusiastically, the beliefs and ideas they gave them.

But when such leaders and people are not there any more, what happens to the parties and institutions they have built and nurtured? One facile answer is that political argument gets stronger and power shifts from one group to another when elections are held. In other words, the people decide who will have the responsibility to manage the state, removing those whom they consider incapable and bringing in those they think can do the job. This is very convenient and comforting. It is also totally fictitious.

It is true that political argument does get stronger, more so because of the increasingly watchful media both print and electronic, of which most political groups have become wary, even fearful, and not without reason. The fiction lies in the belief that the “people” remove those who do not perform and bring in those who they think can perform.

First, the concept of “people” is simplistic; the vast numbers of individuals in the state are an infinitely complex entity consisting of a vast number of groups and sub-groups. This enormous mass of individuals does not come together and decide anything; that is not what happens, not at all. What happens is that a strategy aimed at finding acceptance with groups of individuals, in some cases possibly fortuitously, works or works better than the strategy of another group.

In the 2008 general elections, the strategy of what was called the Third Front did not work; most individuals did not trust it. In a muddle of strategies, five states fell to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat but not because it had planned to do so. It had, of course, tried to win the Federal Government, but its plans were wide off the mark. When it won 5 states and 82 parliamentary seats it must have been as surprised as anyone else.

On the other hand, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman had a strategy that he had worked on for years since 2003 – to give people the kind of development and security they had been yearning for – and his many victories till 2013 May 5th was no surprise, except perhaps to his opponents, and their surprise was more at the magnitude of his success than at the victory itself. It made their strategies and plans look comic in comparison. Musa Aman is an exception, and a phenomenon confined to Sabah.

At the national level, and in most other States, the structure of democracy is being subjected to forces that may well change it completely over time. To understand that one has, perhaps, to take a step back and look at what the process is about today.  It is not about representing the “people’s” will. It is about control and power.

Our so-called democracy is defined not by the existence of dissent and opposition activity but by the nature of the power wielded. It is monarchical and meant to secure the interests, political and economic, of the ruling group, whichever it is. And this is done by ensuring that power remains with an elite group – preferably the family, but also those who are close to it and share the same backgrounds.

One can see it today in what many refer to as the First Family in the Umno Baru; Dr Mahathir Mohamad is clearly grooming his son, Mukhriz, to be the next Prime Minister. But they are not by any means the only family. Look at the number of sons and daughters and son-in-law now who are inducted into the corridors of power:  Najib Tun Razak, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Onn, Khairy Jamaluddin, even Mukhriz Mahathir in Kedah who is what he is because he is Dr Mahathir’s son, and a whole host of others whom media naively call the Young Turks. The original Young Turks were not just young; they had come to prominence because of their abilities, not because of who their father or mother or father-in-law was. A number of sons and daughters whom the media naively call Young Turks have been inducted into the corridors of power.

Inevitably, the elements of power are being chivied towards specific families, which will then determine who will stand for elections for their parties, and thus consolidate their own position, securing it for their generation and the generations to follow. Increasingly, their contact with the people has become more and more distant; the people get to be called the “rakyat” who have to be maneuvered by race, religion, money and promises. But this is not a phenomenon confined to the Umno party; it is as much in evidence in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat parties such as the DAP, PKR and PAS. Look at Lim Guan Eng, Nurul Izzah, Karpal’s sons, Ustaz Din Tok Guru the son-in-law of PAS President Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang, so many more.

And where the factor of unease comes in is in what appears to be an inevitable slide towards oligarchy, where an elite takes over power – political and economic. It is economic, too, of course. All the big corporate giants are busy grooming their sons and daughters to take their place among the power elite; Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary is only one instance of this. Even the much-revered Al Bukhary group is reportedly looking for a Syed to head it once Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary leaves; Vincent Tan has already inducted his son into his Berjaya empire, so has Kuok Brothers, so has Ananda Krishnan.

One can only hope that this is not what we have in store for us, that we do produce some leaders from outside the elite families who, like Musa Aman in Sabah, will lead with clear concepts of development.


Newton’s third law of motion states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. This is one law that has found many practical uses in science, but in politics, Taib Mahmud has mastered it like no one else has. Taib Mahmud has used this before and in the last GE13, we saw it being used once again.

Taib Mahmud’s interpretation of Newton’s 3rd law should be seen in the context of his political strategy. Incite the Sarawakians somehow, so that they vote for him en-masse. No where else in the country is the Sarawakian Bumiputra so united and committed behind the Barisan National Sarawak as he/she is in Sarawak. None of the “kedaerahan” politics that pervades much of Borneo states even seems to make a beginning in Sarawak. In fact, the Sarawakian voter has conferred Taib with the title of “Peh Moh”or White hair just like White Rajah Brooke – something that no other politician has managed to earn.

Trust me, this is not just paranoia. I have observed Taib for many years and I can say this with confidence that his every recent statement and action indicates the launch of one more edition of his proven mantra. Do something that unites the Sarawakian Native vote. But how? Here’s where Newton’s 3rd law comes in: Say something that targets the Malayans or Putrajaya; get media to hyper-react and come to their defense. Gain advantage with the state’s Sarawakians. In short: “Push out the Malayans. Pull in the Sarawakians”. Some would say “very smart”. So what if it is “divisive”. Politics in Sarawak never bothered about things like that!

Let’s look at what all Taib Mahmud has been busy with recently.

Taib’s various interviews with the media is interpreted by naive political observers as being an attempt at reaching out to the natives in Sarawak. This bunch of naive political observers thought this was Taib’s steps towards remaining as chief minister for Sarawak forever and to make sure UMNO never enters Sarawak. But Taib has already figured out that UMNO and Barisan National has become too weak in Malaya and depend too much on Sarawak to remain in power in Putrajaya. This is the time for re-asserting power in his home state by winning handsomely. His focus is only on Sarawak right now. He has enough trouble in his home state. The economy is slowing down (yes yes…..read unbiased articles to understand this fact) and he is getting panned for his state’s Human Development Index figures and corruption. If he now loses Sarawak, he loses all chances to remain as chief minister and UMNO will step foot in Sarawak and hence create another Sabah senario, every Sarawakian knows this. On the other hand, if he wins Sarawak again in the coming Sarawak state election which is expected within the next 2 years, he is without doubt going to be the foremost chief minister who kept the Malayan colonist out from Sarawak, notwithstanding what Taib Mahmud or others feel.

Let’s analyze what Taib told the press recently. Taib Mahmud charged that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) does not “deserve” his cooperation in potential graft investigations as they have not been upfront with him. Taib said he was not afraid of being investigated by MACC as long as he was being treated fairly. “Up to you. They want to victimise me, let them. As long as they are fair I am not scared”. “They don’t deserve my cooperation because they have been quite naughty.” The interview provided Taib the platform to announce that he wouldn’t apologize to the Putrajaya control MACC because he hadn’t done anything wrong. Sounds strange assuming he was trying to appease the Feds? Imagine this. Taib talking to the Feds in their language and telling them on their faces that he wasn’t going to cooperate? What were the Feds expected to do? Howl with anger and pass judgments that Taib was guilty! What is the media expected to do? Scream untouchable Taib. That’s what it did! And what about the opposition? Of course, they all showed how untouchable Taib was. This is exactly what Taib wanted! All this has panned out so beautifully for him. Why? Because what will Sarawakian do when they hear so much media, opposition and criticism of Taib? They will react like Newton said they would. They will ring fence Taib. They will swear to themselves and to each other that they will get their “protector” elected. Brilliant, Taib Mahmud!

Consider also the Malay-language Bible “Alkitab” row. Malaysiakini reported Taib as saying “It was I who talked to the prime minister. I said to him that it was a stupid idea to stamp serial numbers. I told him it should be stopped and he said ‘yes I agree and I’ll put a stop to it’. So he went and stopped the serial numbers. Now there’s no more of this nonsense.” Again, naive observers may have wondered why Taib wasn’t seizing the opportunity to curry favor with the Muslims. But no, Taib’s objective was the same. He was interested in making a statement to the Christian Bumiputras. Again….push the Malayan fanatics….maybe even become a hate figure amongst them…..and earn the votes of the Christian Bumiputras! Brilliant, no? The hearts of Taib’s Sarawak Christians would have swelled with pride. Now that’s our leader!

Taib is said to be fantastic with PR. I agree. He will use every bit of available opportunity to further gain from Newton’s law. The recent Lahad Datu Intrusion is and example where he said the setting up of Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate Lahad Datu intrusion in Sabah is a good move to find out the truth about what happened to avoid the government from being accused of creating the conflict. Taib cannot publicly use this issue to whip up support for himself, but in secret ceramah’s in Sarawak, Taib must be telling the Sarwakians – see what happens if we surrender our rights to the Malayans, let me handle this, only I can stop Putrajaya from stealing our rights! Give me your vote and I will make sure Sarawak is safe from Putrajaya!

The real truth is that all fair’s in love and war and politics. And no one can grudge Taib his political strategy. But it would help to know what one is getting into. No one expects Taib not to rely on his Dayak vote bank. There is nothing wrong in that. But one must recognize the downside of such a strategy. For the country and for his own party. Taib may want to ask why UMNO is dying to step foot in Sarawak and why Putrajaya wants him to retire as chief minister….the answer to that may make him wiser. Wiser than merely knowing Newton’s laws….


All through childhood my mother would tell me: “You have to work hard to get whatever is in your destiny. But, remember, you can never get more than you are destined to get and never before the time that you are destined to get it.’’

I am reminded of that again as I watch Najib Tun Razak fight against his destiny to continue as Prime Minister after GE13. Perhaps it is in his destiny, perhaps not. Perhaps it could even be RAHMAN’s prophecy signifying the end of the line of Umno. But he is, at least, putting up a great fight for it and it is good to see that the man who wanted us to believe that the UMNO was a party with a difference, is himself now at the head of those differences with so many others.

However, it is satisfying to know that what we have been saying all along about Barisan National – that it is actually doing much worse than the Pakatan Rakyat despite seeming so scatter-brained and incapable of holding their act together – is now being reiterated by the grand old man Dr Mahathir. And though it might be due to the threat of losing his power as Prime Minister that might have brought forth the realisation of impending doom, it could actually be time for others within the Barisan National coalition to heed Dr Mahathir’s warning.

The party is usually better at hiding its bickering than the Pakatan Rakyat is under similar circumstances. Dr Mahathir’s latest diatribe seemed to be aimed at Najib as usual, but it is not just Dr Mahathir who is attempting to bring him down a peg or two. Muhyiddin Yassin is also sending feelers that he wants to contest for the Number One position in UMNO after this coming polls.

Now Najib himself is unable to espy the mischief afoot against him in his home town by his own men — those who claim proximity to him have already begun to work the wires to ensure that he does not win in Pekan, in the 1999 general election, dominated by Anwar’s dismissal and marked by mass defections from UMNO, Najib’s 10,793 majority in Pekan fell to just 241 votes, thanks to the postal votes he won. And the Pakatan Rakyat has, of course, opened out its arms to such backstabbers and is wholeheartedly aiding their game plan. Whether, then, Najib overcomes the image of being a coward, as Anwar has suggested, due to a refusal of a debate, remains to be seen. This is exactly what I have been saying all along about Najib — and being called all sorts of names for that observation.

Clearly, Mahathir has more friends in the UMNO than Najib does and so the orchestration has begun in preparation for polling day GE13 2013 — though, I believe, the national party leaders were waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the dissolution of parliament on April 3rd 2013 before really outing themselves. There is a whole group of anti-Najib people who despair that he might win with a small majority but the opposite is felt over at UMNO, as loud whispers points to figures and statistics, proving that neither Malaysia nor its current PM are doing as well as they pretend.

The meeting of anti-Najib heavyweights earlier this week, which openly declared war against Najib, could not have happened without some covert support from Dr Mahathir . This is an indicator that the party has clear-cut division of camps, if not a split – those for and those against getting  Najib out of Putrajaya. Ironically, those who want to confine Najib to Pekan also wish to see Pahang fall to Pakatan Rakyat GE13 for that would truly clip his wings even if he might redouble his efforts in continuing on as UMNO President , seeking a national role for himself.

As I gather from some BN leaders I spoke to, it is clear that this is what they are waiting for — and not just because it would bring back control of the four Pakatan controlled states, including Selangor. UMNO fears handing over the party nationally to Najib, yet BN seems to be simply looking forward to that very prospect. For a while, Najib’s national ascension might have cut short the ambitions of Muhudeen Yassin’s dream of becoming PM in the event of a BN victory. However, UMNO is certain that that a BN victory will never happen with Najib at the helm as they would then be the automatic beneficiaries of the consolidation of votes against the BN.

Whichever way UMNO might resolve this very real headache growing in the party, my money is on Anwar, even though I am no fan of his. I had said multiple times in my past entries that Anwar was an old fox; he would never let go and could be expected to outfox all the foxes, old and new, in both UMNO and BN. Not for nothing did Anwar toil hard to bring the Pakatan Rakyat together and cemented both PAS and DAP which are so diverse in their ethos and pathos, but today, they are able to sit together in one table and talk. Anwar has done the impossible (politically at least) and we have to accept that. Pakatan Rakyat came from nothing and is now steadily working towards the formation of a government at the Centre.

Now, for once, will destiny be on Najib’s side in this battle against the Umno leaders, against Anwar and against Dr Mahathir? There could be many twists in the tale between now and May 2013. But with friends like these in their own party, no UMNO leader — Najib or Muhideen Yassin — need enemies?

Food for thought: It was Anwar Ibrahim who said upon his dismissal in 1998  “I have been betrayed not by others but by my own  people.”


As the hours zero in on the closing of the Sulu standoff and a possibility of some intense immigrant backlash in Lahad Datu and her neighbouring coastal towns, one may wonder what is next for Sabah. Although speculations have indicated that the prolong stand off is due to meek and uncharismatic leadership by the top guns of BN, one could also say that they have been making calculated and planned moves to ensure success and simultaneously lessening the anti- BN war cry among neigh sayers. After all, an early move could result in multiple riots among Suluk immigrants throughout Sabah. As predicted, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, has had his share of publicity amidst the standoff as well. The Suluk Filipinos are after his head as they eye the Chief Minister’s post in a renewed bid and Musa, affectionately known as Moses among his fellow Dusuns, has Foreign Minister and brother, Anifah Aman along for the ride, this time around.

Their major critics, Suluk Filipinos and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), allege that Anifah is Musa’s “real nominee”, who is involved in all sorts of shady dealings involving timber and even the recent arrest of Manuel Amalilo aka Mohammad Suffian Syed who scammed 15,000 Filipinos of 12 billion pesos (RM895 million) in a ponzi scheme in Philippines is purportedly engineered by the Aman brothers which is so ridiculous. Those who know Anifah will swear that the Kimanis MP is one shrewd operator too. He’s strictly scrupulous about the way he arranges his public and private life. Having made his money and tons of it before he went into politics, Anifah has since then stayed out of business and professional dealings which would cast aspersions on his character and his integrity in public service. So, the critics would appear to be barking up the wrong tree on Anifah. I mean, why would you kick a dog just because you hate its owner?

Many want to see Anifah destroyed along with Musa to minimize any possibility that the younger brother taking up the challenge of being the Chief Minister if ever the opportunity presents itself. Anifah is getting closer by the day to the Chief Minister’s post as he has since chalked up an enviable record as Foreign Minister. Aside from Anifah, Pairin is the only other leader who will get Musa’s support as his successor. But Pairin has been Chief Minister from 1985 to 1994, and is unlikely to accept his old post even if offered. He is also extremely pleased with Musa’s performance as Chief Minister since he took over the reins of the state government. He works quietly without getting into needless politicking, or like PKR, promising the sun, the moon and the stars in between.

It’s not surprising that PKR has no qualms about walking on the wild side of politics in Sabah. It’s an open secret in the state that Opposition Leader and de facto PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim was among the chief architects responsible for placing illegal immigrants, mainly drawn from Suluk Filipinos, on the electoral rolls. He was then in the BN Government as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Anwar’s shady past in Sabah has caught up with him in the present to haunt his future. That’s why the call is getting louder in Sabah for Anwar to be called in as witness to the ongoing RCI on illegal immigrants in the state. Besides, PKR has even pledged, in an act of political suicide, that illegal immigrants in Sabah would all be given permanent residency (PR) status should the opposition alliance seize the reins of power in the state.

Between the Suluk Filipinos and Anwar’s PKR, they are not too happy that Musa convinced Najib Tun Razak and mobilised UMNO Sabah to pledge support for the RCI. More alarm bells have gone off when Anifah lashed out publicly not so long ago against attempts by the a special unit at the National Registration Department (NRD) in Putrajaya to issue birth certificates and MyKads to 40,000 people in Semporna alone without going through the local Mobile Court system. Anifah doubted that there could be that many people in one district alone without personal Malaysian documents. But the truth is, Semporna is undoubtedly infested with illegal immigrants, especially Suluk from the nearby Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines.

Anifah’s outburst on Semporna, coming on top of his brother’s public support for the RCI, was the last straw for the Suluk Filipinos. They, led by the Godfather, decided that the Aman brothers would have to go sooner rather than later. Their “secret weapon” is to recycle the old Chinaman’s story, of Michael Chia Thien Foh being nabbed with some Singapore $16 million at one time at Hong Kong Airport, and allegedly close to Musa. But the truth to the matter is, Micheal Chia is a bosom buddy to Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister in the Prime Minister Department. So close is Chia that he had even given Nazri’s son a Hummer SUV, as a gift of sorts.

The story, as it now transpires, is that Chia was never caught in the Hong Kong Airport with bag load of foreign currency. Chia’s hotel room in Hong Kong was raided by the Hong Kong authorities, acting on a tip-off which came from an estranged business partner of Chia, now at loggerheads. In that hotel raid, the Hong Kong authorities found in Chia’s room Singapore $ 16 million. So, this whole story about Micheal Chia getting caught in Hong Kong Airport is a whole lot of rubbish. It never happened in the Hong Kong Airport but indeed took place in the hotel room in Hong Kong where Chia was staying.

The Hong Kong case, if any, has been closed but PKR and Musa’s Suluk Filipino political enemies do not want to cease and desist. They are doggedly flogging the Hong Kong in various recycle versions and liberally dishing them around among the alternative media with known links to PKR and Anwar. A new spin from both PKR and the Suluk Filipinos, is that Attorney-General Gani Patail is related to Musa through his wife. Hence, as the spin continues, his reluctance to prosecute the Sabah Chief Minister and his brother “despite the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) having concluded its investigations”.

The fact of the matter is that it’s not the AG who immediately decides on the prosecution of Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders suspected of being involved in corruption. The MACC files on such leaders have to be sent to the Prime Minister who in turn will have to return them to the Commission before they are sent to the AG for further action, if any. In Musa and Anifah’s case, even if there’s an MACC file on both of them, it’s unlikely that it has been sent to Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak. Indeed, even if such a file exists and it has been sent to the Prime Minister, it’s highly unlikely that he would be so foolish as to send it back to the MACC for onward transmission to the AG.

This is the system first initiated by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The MACC files on Eric Chia of Perwaja Steel and Kasitah Gaddam were under lock and key in Mahathir’s office for years. It was his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi aka Pak Lah, who sent these files back to MACC. The rest is history. Even if there’s a circumstantial case against Musa and Anifah, current PM Najib is unlikely to rock his Fixed Deposit state of Sabah just because some Suluk Filipino got too big for his boots and wants to be Chief Minister. For one, no Suluk Filipino will ever become Chief Minister of Sabah.

The Dusuns in particular — including the Kadazan and Murut – would not allow it. That would be the worst imaginable political scenario for them as it would open the floodgates to further influx of illegal immigrants from the Philippines in particular. Mindful that the Dusuns and Muruts through Joseph Pairin Kitingan and the Parti Bersatu Sabah are solidly behind Musa, the Suluk Filipinos recently tried to sponsor KDM Malaysia as an NGO to further split the non-Muslim Natives as a political force to reckon with in the state. Their efforts came to nothing and the NGO is currently on the verge of being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

For another, the Suluk Sabahans and other local Muslims – Dusun, Bajau, Barunai, Irranun, among others – are dead set against a Suluk Filipino taking the reins of the state government. The stand was made clear by the Suluk Sabahans who have re-grouped under the old United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) in a protest against the disproportionate political role being played in Umno by the Suluk Muslims. The Suluk Filipinos running amok in Sabah, like other illegal immigrants, should thank their lucky stars that they have not so far been detained and deported to the Philippines and banned forever from entering the state. If they think that they can cover up their tracks and buy political protection by seizing the Chief Minister’s post, they are sadly mistaken. Already, local Muslims feel increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised by the continuing influx of the illegal immigrants who go on to enter the electoral rolls and monopolize opportunities which would have otherwise gone to them.

The Lahad Datu armed intrusion and the Malaysian armed forces’ operations against the Filipino Suluk intruders claiming Sabah belongs to Philippines is a real eye opener. We have lost 8 of our security personals so far in this skirmish since the events began unfolding in Lahad Datu. For decades, we have allowed the influx of illegal immigrants and granted citizenships to Filipino immigrants under Project IC. The security threats posed by the large presence of illegals in Sabah has been highlighted by Sabahans for decades but this has fallen on deaf ears in Putrajaya. News of Azzimuddie Kiram’s brother who resides in Sabah, being placed on the police’s wanted list shows the complexities of the situation. Many of the Suluks and Moros, numbering 500,000 in Sabah, are ardent followers of the Sulu sultanate. Will they still support BN?

Although still too early to say who Sabah will decide to be their next leader, how they will go about it and the reasons behind it is no mystery. It has to be a “Sabah for Sabahan” stand for now, and having outsiders, local or otherwise, just may not make the cut. The tic-tac-toe of Sabah’s next Man will eventually be dealt with in good time. And who knows, perhaps other media oulets like Reuters, Al-Jazeera and Bernama just may have their own take on the socio-political landscape of Sabah, allowing for newer and more different ideas and even evidences to be discussed and showcased.

But for now, ladies and gentlemen, back to the stand off.


The coming state assembly elections for Sabah may be a pivotal moment in determining the future trajectory of the state’s political economy and indeed progress, in the near term. Pitted against each other are two contesting visions of Sabah: the incumbent coalition government comprising the Umno-led BN in a coalition with local parties Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS), United Pasok Momogun Kadazan Organisation (UPKO),Party Bersatu Rayat Sabah (PBRS) and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), are campaigning on a platform of good governance which is supported by the arithmetic of rapid economic growth — approximately 7 per cent on average — in the last ten years of Musa Aman’s government.

On the other side is the Pakatan Rakyat combine shepherded by Anwar Ibrahim and Bumburing’s Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) and Lajim Ukin’s Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPPS), which still believes that it can acquire power in Kota Kinabalu by manipulating the state’s race and religious arithmetic in its favour. The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Sabah STAR is the third front in this contest — trying to take on the incumbent government on a Borneo agenda-Sabah autonomy, rather than governance plank — but not yet powerful enough to be a credible alternative in government, leaving many to believe that both the SAPP and Star Sabah have been planted by Barisan National to split the opposition votes. After all, President Yong Teck Lee himself will have plenty explaining to do on what he did during his tenure as chief minister when SAPP was in the BN.

It would be in the larger interest of the state of Sabah and its people if this election puts to rest the notion that power can still be captured based on old social divisions and grievances. It is important for Sabah’s political economy to move on to a politics of aspiration, where people vote for a party or coalition that delivers governance. This will force all serious political parties (including the SAPP and Sabah Star if they want to remain relevant) to contest future elections on a forward looking governance plank in the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement within the framework of the Federal Constitution, rather than a backward looking social engineering plank. This time round, such reasoning undoubtedly favours the UMNO-PBS combination which is the main pillar of Barisan National Sabah, and a majority of opinion polls, for what they are worth, suggest an easy victory for the Musa Aman-led coalition.

But a political economy which puts governance at its centre may not favour the incumbent government for all times to come, such are the huge challenges facing any government that is elected to power in Sabah. To what extent can Musa Aman’s government claim credit for Sabah’s apparent turnaround, powered by a growth rate higher than Malaysia’s average over the last five years? A dissection of the growth figures shows both the contribution of the government and the challenges that remain. Most of Sabah’s growth these past five years has been powered by agriculture, construction, tourism and services, particularly hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, trade and, to an extent, oil and gas. The impressive growth in these sectors isn’t matched by the lethargic performance in manufacturing — those are challenges that still face the next government.

The state government can claim credit for fuelling the growth in agriculture, fisheries, tourism and construction, since much of this has come through rural development projects, water supply, electrification, bridges and roads funded through the federal and state’s exchequer. In fact, the government’s public spending record has been good, and a massive improvement on the poor spending record of the previous governments before Musa Aman that preceded it. Planned spending was tripled within ten years of the Musa Aman government taking office. This has spillover effects, in a Keynesian “stimulus” sense. Apart from increasing spending, the government has also taken huge strides in improving the law and order situation especially in the east coast of Sabah where bulk of the illegals with fake or questionable Malaysian identity have outnumbered the locals. That has helped boost not just agriculture and the construction activity but has also given a fillip to service industries in the tourism sector like hotels and restaurants which have registered impressive growth.

In short, the government has effected the turnaround in the state’s economic fortunes by simply doing the two things any good government ought to: implementing law and order as well as spending on infrastructure. In doing so, it has reversed the long decline in the state’s fortunes that took place before Musa Aman took over the chief ministers in 2003. It is also important to remember that a lot of this impressive growth in the last five years has plenty to do with Sabah starting from a very low base — and that there is a limit to the sustainability of a growth rate that is powered largely by government spending and a small section of services industries and not forgetting that Sabah is the 2nd largest state in Malaysia with an area of 74,500 sq. km which is 260 times bigger than Penang, which is only 293 sq. km in size even, smaller than Sabah Forest Industries (SFI). Therefore for growth to be sustainable it needs to be more broad-based into manufacturing and agriculture.

Here, the task gets a lot harder, and will involve massive policy reform in land, labour and product markets. What makes Sabah’s task of industrialisation harder than that of some other states is the fact that goods are more expensive in Sabah due to the federal government’s cabotage rules a policy set in the early 1980s, making sure that all the domestic transport of foreign goods could only be done by Malaysian vessels, reducing Sabah’s attractiveness as an investment destination. This protectionist policy has led to excessive shipping costs, importers and exporters in Sabah had to pay more than RM1 billion for shipping services as a result, causing prices everywhere in East Malaysia to go up and ultimately a higher cost of living and higher price of goods as producers hike up prices to compensate the increase in cost of production. Further more, Sabah lost a lion’s share of its industries after Labuan became a Federal Territory.

What may also turn out to be an unforeseen advantage is the rather shambolic state of governance in surrounding states — Sarawak, Brunei, The Sulu States, and even Kalimantan. If Sabah can consistently outperform these states on governance, it could easily become the industrial hub of East Malaysia — a region which still trails Penang and Selangor on most economic parameters by some distance.

But to capitalise on these potential advantages, the Musa Aman government will have to do much more than maintain law and order and actively engage in spending which has been done of late with a huge budget approval of over RM4 billion this year. It will also need to take bold policy steps to liberalise rules that deter investment. In doing so it may have to go further than other states which already have a head start in attracting investment. The government will, for example, need to ease labour laws and better wages, so that Sabahans can be gainfully employed within the state. It will need to take aggressive steps to ease land acquisition so that it can have an advantage over neighbouring Sarawak. If the government fails to do this and more, growth will begin to slow, giving the opposition plenty of ammunition. At any rate, Sabah’s future elections ought to be fought on these issues of the future rather than the outdated legacies of the past. This leaves Musa Aman still the best man for the job.



President of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Taiko Yong Teck Lee’s romancing of the Barisan National may end his love affair with the Sabah opposition front soon. But this new love story bring up the moot question as to why he is so desperate when the Barisan National has hardly given any indication to warmly accommodate him under its fold. Sources in the Barisan National say Yong Teck Lee can’t be trusted. How can they depend on a leader who was willing to ditch the Barisan National—his decade-old senior partner — when he felt the relations between both were strained because of one man Pak Lah? Earlier too, Yong Teck Lee parted ways with Pairin Kitingan and formed the SAPP. The gainer of this triangular game being played in the state may be Shafie Apdal a good friend of Yong Teck Lee who is waiting and watching in the wings to take over as chief minister from Musa Aman.

Remember when Yong Teck Lee was chief minister he together with Shafie Apdal milked Yayasan Sabah until it nearly when dry? However, thanks to Musa Aman,he saved the day for Yayasan Sabah. Even Lajim Ukin, Sabah’s famous party hopper and old buddy of Yong Teck Lee from the Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS) days where both began their political career and where both plotted to destroy PBS are seen regularly together nowadays. If recent gathering in the meetings of SAPP is any indication, then Yong Teck Lee being adamant to go for a majority of the state seats (60 in Sabah) this coming looming 13th general election on what he termed as “the principle of Sabah autonomy” is all about splitting the opposition votes and helping Barisan National win big.

The political signal coming from Yong Teck Lee in the last few months indicate that he is trying to sail on two boats — Barisan National and Pakatan Rakyat — at the same time. His shifting statements to keep both the major political parties in good humour may end with a backlash. At the same time, Pakatan Rakyat camp specially The Democratic Action Party (DAP) feels that Yong Teck Lee is not dependable and his track record for the last couple of years shows that he is more committed to divide and split the opposition votes. It is a known fact that despite poor governance Yong Teck Lee ruled this politically vibrant state for 2 years but a lot say he worked 4 long years (pun added because he worked day and night 24hours a day making hay while there is sunshine with his partner in crime Joseph Ambrose Lee).

Yong Teck Lee’s new political strategy to oppose Pakatan Rakyat and hinting he would also ditch Dr Jeffrey’s State Reform Party (STAR) anytime is also meant to hijack Dr Jeffery’s old battle cry of ” Sabah For Sabahans” , “Sabah Rights” and now “Ini Kali Lah”, and keep his minority flock in his pocket. In the meantime, Yong Teck Lee is trying his best to sweep the issues of malgovernance and corruption during his time as chief minister under the carpet with the help of captive media. Being a shrewd seasoned politician, Yong Teck Lee knows his limitations; he also knows the art of handling the levers of the power equations. He has hardly missed any occasion to profess his loyalty to the Party Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and Anwar Ibrahim in particular. Recently, he took the opportunity to welcome Anwar Ibrahim in the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and this says a lot. Though he is not a part of the Pakatan Rakyat but only supports it from the outside, he also denounced DAP Sabah strongly. Is Yong Teck Lee driving a wedge between Anwar Ibrahim and DAP Sabah?

In a given political situation, Yong Teck Lee doesn’t have any other alternative but to support the PKR in Sabah after his bad outing in the Batu Sapi Parliamentary by-election where even Ansari of PKR did better then him. He can’t think of joining Pakatan Rakyat because of DAP Sabah whereas Dr Jeffrey Kitingan can move in any direction. The challenge for the opposition is how to strike an agreement among themselves so that there will be only one-to-one fights with the Barisan. It will not be easy because SAPP and DAP are eyeing the same seats while Jeffrey is unlikely to give way to PKR on choice seats. Besides, there is no love lost between Dr Jeffrey and Anwar Ibrahim.

Now, as political churning is going on in Sabah, the situation is that the two political stalwarts Yong Teck Lee and Dr Jeffrey Kitingan are being used as pawns in a game played by the Barisan National and Pakatan Rakyat, both “Party Party Malaya” as they say here in Sabah.



No Prime Minister in Malaysia’s history has ever expressed helplessness in facing challenges that have come up during his tenure. No Prime Minister has ever sought refuge in compulsions in dealing with crucial national matters. No Prime Minister has admitted to the failings of his Cabinet colleagues while trying to absolve himself. No Prime Minister has ever tried to correct his image at the expense of his party or his coalition partners. The reason is simple: the buck stops at the Prime Minister’s office.

Over the weekend, rumors were rife that Najib had fallen ill with mild stroke. According to friends from Putrajaya, doctors have been on standby in Pekan where Najib is said to be recuperating. Najib and his wife Rosmah has been under tremendous pressure because of his corruption scandals expecially in connection to the Scorpene submarines and the Altantuya Shaariibuu C4 murder. To make matters worst his Deputy Muhyideen has ganged-up with former Premier Mahathir to oust him as UMNO President and Prime Minister before the 13th GE is held and this is an open secret.

What is his helplessness all about even if he considers it is due to Mahathir’s interference? If Najib is the Prime Minister today is because Najib took over as UMNO President and the country’s 6th Prime Minister after helping Mahathir and Muhyiddin to oust Abdullah Badawi who was blamed for the UMNO-BN’s weak performance in the 2008 elections. Had the Barisan National got a two-third majority in 2008, he would not have been the chosen one. But being Prime Minister is not a license for corruption or inefficiency. If anyone feels as strongly about the evils of interference by the “puppet master”, there is no compulsion of being associated with such politics or the offices it brings along with it.

When the Prime Minister shows he is helpless, is he not letting down the rakyat? Is he showing that he is helpless in serving the poor, who elected his government and have great expectations? The poor would have wanted prices to be in check, corruption within his ministers curbed and the influence of corporate giants contained.

Najib must realize that he is occupying a seat that was once occupied by a great visionary and statesman: Tun Abdul Razak his father, the man who faced many challenges in his life. But he never said he was helpless. The same office was held by humble but strong willed Tun Hussein Onn, acclaimed for his discipline and against all corruption. He was never helpless.

Neither was Tengku Abdul Rahman, a leader whose mass base was astounding and who came to power after getting independence. He was faced with confrontation with Sukarno’s Indonesia, he was faced with political crisis with Lee Kuan Yew and even within Umno he had to face people like Mahathir who was undermining him from inside,including racial riots and the separation of Singapore but did not yield to the pressure of the syndicate. He dug his heels and abolished privy purses. He was never helpless when he even fought the Singapore leaders with all chips down.

Even Abdulah Badawi never displayed helplessness. When his time was up, he just went but did not blame political situations, colleagues and circumstances. But perhaps all these leaders were from the political class and were not there after their tenures in other fields had ended. Perhaps they were made of sterner stuff. But they all realized and respected the fact that Prime Ministers can never show helplessness. If they were then what would happen to the country? If they lose relevance, they go.

Before going public with his limitations, Najib should have stated his piece before Malaysians, who elected Barisan National as its leader and subsequently the Yang Dipertuan Agong endorsed his elevation to the position of the Prime Minister. He must learn from his predecessors and dig in his heels to fight corruption and inefficiency. He must always remember that the buck stops at his doorstep.